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18 Aug 2022

Derry sailors successful in Round Ireland Race

Lough Swilly Yacht Club thriving

Sammy Burke part of the Green Dragon Racing Club on the 'Green Dragon'

Sammy Burke part of the Green Dragon Racing Club on the 'Green Dragon'

When Derry woman, Therese Kielty, took up sailing a couple of years ago, little did she think she would one day successfully complete the 700-mile Round Ireland Race.

Teresa, who sails with the Lough Swilly Yacht Club at Fahan, completed the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) on the vessel 'Blue Oyster', in the Cruising Class.

Six sailors from Lough Swilly Yacht Club take part in the Round Ireland Race at the end of June, the second longest of the RORC races and Ireland's premier offshore race. 47 boats took part in the prestigious event altogether.

Connall Morrison, who comes from another Derry sailing family and spent his youth in Lough Swilly Yacht Club, also took part in the Round Ireland Race. Connall has achieved many sailing accolades and now works professionally as a sailor.

As with so many other events, the Round Ireland Race had a covid hiatus, meaning everyone involved was very excited to be back in Wicklow and competing in the challenging event.

Sammy Burke and Jim McGowan were part of the Green Dragon Racing Club on the 'Green Dragon', the well-known and popular Irish entry in the Volvo Ocean Race 10 years ago.

Sammy, a Derry native, learned to sail on dinghies as a child in Moville, and has since always raced in Lough Swilly Yacht Club on his boat, 'Derry Air'.

Sammy was Watch Lead and Helmsman while Jim was also Helmsman on 'Green Dragon', which crossed the line in second place, behind the completely professional crew in 'Kuka3'. Jim, who is from Ballybofey, also learned to sail in Lough Swilly Yacht Club.

Richie Fearon, another Lough Swilly Yacht Club protégé, was part of the crew of 'Samatom', which came second in the overall International Rating Certificate [the system of handicapping sailboats and yachts for the purpose of racing]. Richie's sailing has gone from from strength to strength. He has achieved many accolades and professional qualifications over the years.

Nick Doherty, a keen sail racer who now lives in Dublin, also spent a lot of time on boats in Lough Swilly growing up. He is a regular visitor as his family live locally. Nick took part in the Round Ireland Race on 'Telephonica Black', a Volvo 70.

By virtue of its location in Fahan, Lough Swilly Yacht Club attracts members young and old from the whole of the North West.

The club's Commodore, Derry man, Eoghan Ó Gráda, said: "The club is now thriving after a few years of reduced activity with the pandemic.

"There is a history in the club of members competing at a national and international level, and we are very proud of members who take on big challenges like the Round Ireland. It just shows how impactful membership of a club like ours can be.

"We are proud of our multi-generational participation within the club, with active members ranging from their 20s to their 80s. The past year has seen a huge increase in female participation in the club.”

For more information on Lough Swilly Yacht Club, visit: www.loughswillyyc.com.

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